Thursday, September 6, 2007

Tuesday night I had another successful writing group. I told the group the previous meeting that the homework was

Start observing people and places. Keep a note pad and pen with you, and jot down some notes. Good places to do this are waiting rooms, train stations, malls etc. Study the people around you, listen to conversations, study buildings (why were they built like that), think about something extraordinary happening in a seemingly ordinary place.

You may discover (like I have) that you’ll be inspired for entire paragraphs. One plane flight I had resulted in a full description of an outfit a character wore, along with ideas of how that character might talk. Think about how and why people are doing things – if you pass a homeless man on the street, or one of the Big Issue sellers, think about what might have led them into such a predicament. If you see an obviously successful businessman, think about what he might’ve done to get there, where he’s going now. If you see a person with an interesting choice in clothing, think about why they might have chosen such clothes.

If you hear an interesting piece of conversation, use it.

Once you have a few notes, try to create a story, paragraph, poem or the like out of it, using these small nuggets of inspiration.

Everything and everyone has a story – it’s up to you to figure out what it is. Learn to observe and you’ll discover tiny things that no-one else even sees, and you’ll find inspiration anywhere.

To help kick start a story – try writing “What would happen if” and answering that question, it should help to give you an idea or two. When you’ve created a piece of fiction (or non-fiction if you so desire), bring it in and tell the story. If you can’t, but you made interesting observations, tell them to the group and say (briefly) why you thought the person or object was interesting.


It was incredible what everyone came up with and how they were inspired. One in particular talked about how he used the newspaper for interesting articles or pictures to put into his "idea" file.

He also mentioned how one small nugget of an idea, as he explored it, he rewrote it and ended up with three stories each travelling a different path.

Another saw an interesting character in his place of work, and over time, developed an entire story line into what her life had been and now was.

Some really fantastic story ideas came out of small blossoms of inspiration - I hope they keep it up!

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